“Transparence, Opacité?”

Maison de la Villette

Caution: An exhibition of fourteen contemporary Chinese artists curated by a French philosopher specializing in Byzantine doctrines on the icon is likely to be about something more than the works presented. Indeed, the key element of the title “Transparence, opacité?” is neither “transparency” nor “opaqueness,” but the question mark at the end. And the questions in question, as philosopher-curator Marie-José Mondzain explains in the remarkable travelogue that serves as catalogue essay, have to do with what is physically, perceptually lacking in the individual works themselves: a succession of spaces, going from what she calls the traditional “space of readability and visibility” in Chinese culture to the potential space of a civil society in the making, via the contemporary space of the visual arts.

The 126 works on show—paintings, lithographs, silk screens, collages, photographs—were

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